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Asiya Sururu, Our Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Personality of the Week

Asiya rowing in Mombasa waters. Photo credits: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

Asiya Sururu, the first-ever Kenyan rower in a Paralympic Game

Asiya Mohammed Sururu will, among other athletes, represent Kenya in the ongoing Paralympics. She is our personality of the week.

Her story starts a happy one— she was born whole and healthy. It then takes a cruel turn— she got into an accident at the age of two.

Since then, Sururu was unable to walk again.

The scary thing with accidents is that one minute everything might be okay, but the next minute edges to wreck life as we knew it, for good. Two-year-old Sururu lived in Mombasa, in a home that stood adjacent to Kenya Power and Lightning offices. A railway line snaked its way to separate her home and the KPLC offices, where her grandmother ran a food business to eke out a living.

On that fateful day in 1994, Asiya was crawling from her home, hoping to cross over the railway line and make it to her grandmother’s. As she tried to make her way over the rail, an oncoming train crushed and cut off her legs, with it her ability to ever walk again. Death missed her by inches, leaving her crippled, with a whole life ahead of her to navigate through. Growing up, her movement was made possible with the help of crutches.

She would however grow into a resilient woman, with the support of her family who stood by her until she grew up, and went to school. After form four, she wanted to become a sportswoman. Her family advised her against it, citing the importance of a college education. She joined Shanzu Teacher’s Training College, graduating as a professional teacher. Her teaching career however came to an end in 2015, supplanted by her love for sports.

She began playing long tennis and badminton, wheeling herself in a wheelchair. In 2018 when international coaches from the Paralympics came to Kenya to introduce rowing, Asiya took interest, even though fear of large water bodies gripped her. Nevertheless, she showed up at Tudor Water Sports, Mombasa, for the training.

Her coaches and the Kenya Navy have been of great help in her training. She has even learned how to swim. That resilience bore fruits, seeing her through to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games where she will be the only Kenyan representing our nation in rowing. Asiya is the first in Kenyan history to participate in rowing at this competition. She has been accompanied to Tokyo by Joshua Kendagor, a coach and Kenya Navy officer. We wish her all the best.

There you have it, our personality of the week. Watch Asiya Mohammed Sururu’s story, as covered by KTN’s Jeff Mogire in 2019.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opened in Tokyo, Japan. The international contest, like many other events, suffered the blow of the pandemic and had to be postponed, last year.

This year, the events will take place from the 24th of August to the 5th of September.

The Paralympics are a series of international contests that provide a platform for athletes living with disabilities. The competition began yesterday, though with a stark difference from how we were used to. This time around, the stands will be empty, a needful measure in the wake of the pandemic.

However, the competition is out to achieve record-breaking coverage. Natalia Dannenberg-Spreier, the Head of Brand and Engagement for the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) said, “Tokyo 2020 will be the most digitally connected Paralympic Games ever.”

IPC has estimated a smashing 4.25 billion people, as the record cumulative global TV audience that the competition will reach.

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Lesalon Kasaine
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